Often we hear arguments like these: VPNs are no longer necessary because the internet has become safer, allowing users to browse without concern for online dangers. Although this viewpoint is often well-meaning and partially accurate, it fails to acknowledge certain aspects of the current state of internet security. Therefore, there is more to this situation than what meets the eye.
VPN vs. HTTPS: Debunking the Rivalry and Embracing the Synergy
While both VPN and HTTPS encryption protect your data, VPNs offer a more comprehensive level of encryption. Unlike HTTPS, which only encrypts data between web browsers and servers (if enabled), VPNs encrypt all data passing through the VPN connection, regardless of settings.
In recent years, the internet has made significant strides in security, with most major websites adopting HTTPS. This protocol uses TLS encryption to safeguard data transmitted between your device and the website you’re accessing, making it impossible for third parties to intercept sensitive information like passwords.
However, the notion that VPNs and HTTPS are competitors is misguided. While HTTPS is a powerful tool, it alone cannot fully secure your browsing activities. VPNs and HTTPS work in tandem, complementing each other’s strengths to create a safer online experience. Therefore, it is important to view VPNs and HTTPS as collaborative rather than competing tools.
VPN + HTTPS: An Extra Layer of Protection for Online Security
The statement that “a VPN is unnecessary because most websites are already encrypted” is a weak argument. It is akin to saying that one should not lock their front door because most houses are not burglarized.
It is not foolish or wasteful to take precautions and be careful. We often take extra measures to minimize risks in our daily lives, such as looking both ways before crossing the street, even though we may have safely crossed countless roads before.
In the same way, utilizing both VPN and HTTPS provides an additional layer of security to protect your online activities from potential threats. While HTTPS encrypts communication between your device and websites, VPNs encrypt all data passing through the VPN connection, safeguarding your internet traffic from unauthorized access. By using both VPN and HTTPS, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have taken extra steps to secure your online presence.
The Limitations of HTTPS
HTTPS has improved the security of the internet, but it is not without its limitations. In some cases, HTTPS fails to provide complete security, and a VPN is necessary to fill in the gaps.
Limitations of HTTPS in securing the initial connection.
Firstly, HTTPS cannot secure the initial connection when your browser accesses an unencrypted version of a website before being directed to the encrypted version. Attackers can intercept this connection and redirect it to a malicious website to cause harm. HSTS can address this issue, but only a small percentage of websites use it. A VPN encrypts all traffic from the beginning to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.
HTTPS can’t encrypt with a single click
Secondly, HTTPS requires cooperation from all parties involved, including browsers, websites, and users, to work effectively. Users must differentiate between HTTPS and HTTP websites, and websites must implement TLS encryption properly. However, not all browsers and websites notify users and secure traffic correctly. A VPN provides a reliable solution by encrypting all traffic between the user and their destination online.
Limitations of HTTPS in protecting against phishing
Thirdly, even if HTTPS is implemented correctly, it cannot protect against phishing. Many phishing sites use HTTPS, giving users a false sense of security. VPNs offer more security functions to prevent users from accessing malicious websites and scanning for malware.
Moving beyond the internet
Lastly, mobile applications pose a new frontier for cyber threats. Unlike web browsing, it is difficult to tell whether mobile apps transport sensitive data securely. Developers may bypass cybersecurity guidelines, leaving users vulnerable. A VPN encrypts all internet traffic, providing a solution to protect against cyber threats on mobile apps.
The Popularity of VPNs as the Mainstream Security Solution
The VPN industry is in need of change. Commercial VPNs are necessary for the current state of the internet as they offer a simple way for consumers to enhance their security, even without technical knowledge.
Given the slow pace of change in the digital environment, such as the lack of secure Wi-Fi hotspots and apps that do not mandate encryption, it is crucial to recommend VPN usage as it is still the easiest way for the average user to protect themselves from online threats. Discouraging VPN use would only make the digital landscape less secure.
HTTPS and VPN can both encrypt data, but VPN encryption is more comprehensive. While HTTPS encryption only applies to communication between a browser and server, and only if enabled, VPN encryption covers all data passing through the VPN connection, regardless of settings.
One of the main advantages of a VPN over HTTPS is that a VPN encrypts all data that passes through the VPN connection, whereas HTTPS only encrypts what is sent via a browser to a server and back. Additionally, HTTPS encryption is only enabled if the sites you visit have it enabled, whereas a VPN will encrypt everything as long as it is turned on. It’s important to note that there is more communication going on than what is visible on the surface, and a VPN can encrypt all of it.
In conclusion, while HTTPS has made significant strides in securing online communications, it is not a foolproof solution for protecting privacy and data from online threats. VPNs offer an added layer of security and encryption that can complement HTTPS and provide users with more comprehensive protection. It is important to understand the limitations of HTTPS and the benefits of VPNs to make informed decisions about online security and privacy. With cyber threats on the rise, using a VPN in conjunction with HTTPS is becoming more of a necessity than a choice.